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Write about the significance of the way Auden writes about characters

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Introduction

Write about the significance of the way Auden writes about characters. Auden utilises poetry to access and describe all that is latent within society and condemn those who outcast others because of their prejudicial mindset. He comments on various situations, all of which come to represent people who do not have the true ability to speak out against the problems they endure because of the lack of attention they receive if they do. All the environments in which they are placed symbolise the cruel, impersonal, perhaps even callous nature of humanity as they seek to deal with problems which involve individuals' own self-interests, and therefore, are reluctant to accept the problems of others as being of the same merit as theirs. Auden feels that it is his due civil responsibility to voice his concerns about this and he does so convincingly conveying the emotional and psychological weight and consequence of the problems that these people have to deal with. However, contrary to making the audience empathise with the individual characters, Auden invites us to be amused at their circumstances, to laugh at their lack of 'worthiness'. It is through this method that we soon realise the problems we have in identifying with people in less desirable situations and we begin to recognise the problems that society, as a whole, has in the way it tries to understand people such as 'Miss Gee'. ...read more.

Middle

The remarkable difference between the use of the ballad form (+ ACBC rhyme scheme) and the tragic nature of this story in itself represents the failure of society to meet its responsibilities to look after those who are less fortunate and less able to become fulfilled by living normal lives. The people in O What Is That Sound are characterised by the way in which they interact - the dismissive and even unsympathetic temperament of the character who speaks in the latter lines of each stanza enables us to fully understand the situation of the person who speaks in the first lines. The characters are specifically identified because they come to represent the ambiguity and universality of the situation. A consistent tone is taken throughout the piece aside from one line in which the 2nd character's annoyance seems to shine through ("or perhaps a warning"). Her naivety is glaringly obvious and, similarly to other poems by Auden, this could represent the ignorance of society to threats on their doorstep because they are merely that, threats. They do not immediately have an effect and so we are willing to ignore them in order to carry on with our lives until they do become a problem; Auden, however, feels strongly against this. He maintains that we should prepare for the worst even we do not see it coming. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although the narrator appears to be very well versed in historical figures (and therefore suggests that he is of noble birth), Auden dismisses his inherited wealth as he comes to realise that strength should lie in the "Collective Man" who should "live for long / in a euphoric dream" whilst maintaining their "love for another". Various statements in the poem lead us to believe that poet is trying to answer the questions prompted by war, such as, how did we get there in the first place? He locates blame in those who have "imperialist" tendencies, corrupting the very democracy them claim to represent. They have ignored the plight of the workers and their impersonal approach to the war, because of the fact that the only scar they will bear will lie in their ego, is completely indictable. Their "competitive excuses", their "dishonesty", the "driv[ing] of a culture mad" and the "stupor lies" all should make us want to rise up against such blatant disregard for our welfare, but Auden, through his character, negates this theme by implying that violence isn't fought with through other violence. We have to show an "affirming flame", and Auden's voice 'I will be true to my wife' leads us to believe that he will be the figurehead of such a tidal movement against the stalemate of complacency. He must, at least, stay true to his message, because that is what will set him apart from the deceptive "militant trash". ...read more.

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